The Racers' Route (80 miles)
Long, rural, scenic, and HILLY; if cycling routes could be anthems, this would be the one for Fredericksburg, Texas. Although only 80 miles long, with over 4,600 feet of climbing this route should feel like 100 miles to flat-landers.
In addition to hills, this route features quiet county roads and (once off RR 1631) reduced exposure to motorized traffic. Especially appealing regions visited include "Little Switzerland", featuring two large climbs, and the frequently vacant Crenwelge and Pecan Creek Roads. Note, however, the water crossings on Crenwelge Road may be extremely slippery!
We recommend The Racer's Route for a day with winds from the north, but because the final leg runs downhill, find it suitable even against a prevailing southeast wind. As for gearing, we recommend triple chain rings for all but advanced riders; and for them we recommend an otherwise liberal 24- or 25-tooth rear cog.
This route begins at the Marktplatz in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas. Find this main town square located on the North side of Main Street (also HWY 290/HWY 87) at the intersection of S. TX16. (North of this intersection, S. TX16 becomes N. Adams St.)
When groups meet here, generally they form up at the facility's northeast corner, where W. Austin St. intersects N. Adams St., which is not too far from the restrooms and off busy Main St. (Infrequently these restrooms may be closed for festival setup; find alternatives two blocks southeast at Fredericksburg's Visitor's Center).
Begin at the Marktplatz, which offers a central meeting location, restrooms, and plenty of parking. Ride eastward on Austin St. to Elk St. Turn right and roll to US290. From here, one might simply turn left and ride US290 to Columbus St. We do not recommend that shortcut, however, because the narrow bridge puts cyclist in potentially close contact with motorists. Instead, we recommend this slightly longer scenic route: Riding on Elk St., carry on straight across US290. Turn left at Creek St. and then follow Creek St. as it bends rightward. Climb the short hill and turn left on Franklin St. Two blocks later turn left (careful, two-way stop) on to Columbus St. Follow Columbus St. to US290. Here, consider stopping for sustenance at the convenience store on the south side of US290, or the bike shop on the north side; you will find no other food/drink resources until you reach Willow City.
Ride northward on Columbus St., turn right on Schubert St., and then left on RR1631. Because this road carries a substantial load of car traffic, we recommend single-file grouping, and ride friendly. As you enter the countryside you whisk by a junkyard and then climb Landfill Hill, which rises beside the town dump. After you endure those features, the scenery turns sublime. Peach orchards blanket the landscape to your right as you descend toward Palo Alto Creek. Once at the creek, the road meanders along the flats for a few miles. Then, up ahead, the Climb to Jung Ln. fills the view. Nothing too debilitating, but it challenges those that attack it. At the top go straight ahead, putting you on RR2721.
This road rocks and rolls for about 4½ miles more. Turn left at Klein-Ahrens Rd. Here, the climbing increases (but the traffic declines). The road peaks and falls, and, with a prevailing southeast breeze, you might catch some Hill Country perfume from the nearby cattle feedlot. After a few consequential climbs, Klein-Ahrens terminates at N Grape Creek Rd., where you ride straight ahead.
Soon you drop down a rapid descent. Watch for the mild undulations near the bottom, just before the road bends to the left. (These mild dips give us visions of Joseba Beloki tumbling to the asphalt in the 2003 Tour de France. Careful!)
At about the spot this road turns left, look for bicycle-upsetting undulations
Cruise along the creek and eventually turn right to stay on N. Grape Creek Rd. This terminates at RR1631. Turn right, ride about a block, and turn left on Herber-Schaefer Rd. Sticking to the Tour de France theme, sections of this road remind us of our rides in Luxembourg in conjuction with the Grand Depart of the 2002 Tour. Very pretty here.
Tool along Herber-Schaefer until it terminates at RR1323 and turn left. Not far to Willow City from here. Be aware of the city limits sign sprint, if your riding mates would be so-inclined.
Once in town, turn left to remain on RR1323 and look for the general store by the fire station (both on your right). Find additional resources at the Knot in the Loop Saloon, located a few miles down the road near TX16. We used to recommend a stop at "Harry's on the Loop", but lately the staff seems not to appreciate cyclists. At TX16 turn right and then almost immediately turn left on to Eckert Rd. TX16 carries very fast traffic so be careful.
Along Eckert Rd. you face a net gain in altitude. Nothing too daunting though. Enjoy terrific scenery as this road transitions from wide open vistas to more acute dips, small creeks and slight rises.
Eckert Rd. terminates at Crabapple Rd. Turn right and enjoy more gentle, rolling and scenic road. Soak it in, for the real climbing begins soon. Crabapple terminates at RR965. Turn right and ¾ of a mile later turn left at Welgehausen Rd. Here begin the larger climbing challenges of the Route, in a section of the county we call "Little Switzerland".
Turning on to Welgehausen Rd., the Welgehausen climb begins almost immediately. This tough climb bends a little near its crest and then falls away into a FAST, TWISTING, descent. Use your brakes and all of your wits; otherwise it would be easy to ride out of control here. If you dare do so while descending, look up at the horizon to catch a magnificent view of Enchanted Rock.
Once down the hill, meander along several miles of rolling, scenic roads. Turn right at Keese Rd. and then left at Keese-Sagabiel Rd. Soon you meet another dramatic climb: Swiss Miss. This one climbs dramatically. Virtually straight at first, a cattle guard signals a mellowing of the grade. This climb goes on seemingly forevor, with the grade fading away as you ascend. A final sharp abutment punctuates the very top. By now expect some disparity in the progress of your pack.
Having flirted with and then disgarded Swiss Miss, the rest of your course through Little Switzerland presents few challenges. No abatement of great scenery, however. This road terminates at RR2323, which comes up quickly so be ready to stop.
Minding traffic, turn left on to RR2323 and then almost immediately turn right on to Cherry Spring Rd. For about the next four miles you face a net climb. At two miles, after a swooping rightward bend and then a left turn, you climb past a nice churchyard setting on your right. Shortly thereafter you pass a most-interesting homestead on your left. Straight ahead, Cherry Spring Rd. crosses US87, where it becomes Doss - Cherry Spring Rd. Careful crossing here, because of potentially fast traffic.
Shortly after the intersection you ascend the Hill with No Name. One might also call this the "Hill Among the Typical but Otherwise Non-Descript Hill Country Terrain.". (Take your pick.) Continue along Doss - Cherry Spring Rd. for yet more scenic country miles until it terminates at RR648.
Turn right at this intersection and enjoy an extended flat roadway, for a time. This road takes you straight towards a ridge, giving you plenty of time to contemplate your pending painful ascent. Fang bites twice. The first foothills challenge very little. You climb, and heart rates usually rise, but you receive little hint of what lies ahead. Preceding the second stage the road bends to the left and reveals an impressive, if not frightening, slope. Be warned, the approximately 120 feet of climbing challenges to a far greater degree than the apparent slope suggests.
Once over the top you immediately drop into a valley leading to Doss. The long strait stretch features several shallow dips. Just as you reach the buildings on the outskirts of the little town, watch for the city limits sign, which lies at the far side of a small dip. A hint for those sprinting here: Do not over-gear going into the dip because you have to "climb" back out of it before the line.
RR648 terminates at RR783. The explicit route turns left at this intersection. Those seeking sustenance, however, will turn right and ride less than one mile to the convenience store (on the right/east side of RR783).
Rejoining the route, head south on RR783 and then turn left on to Doss-Spring Creek Rd. Along this section you begin climbing again, a theme that continues for some time from here. Turn left on to Crenwelge Rd. and watch out for the low water crossing shortly after this turn; this one can be very slick. We recommend dismounting and walking across very slowly. Keep your knees bent and do not use the bicycle as a crutch. A second water crossing follows shortly after the first. Be careful here too.
After crossing the streams, a long climb, El Jefe, carries you up a twisting ramp of roadway, climbing over 300 feet. Though not incredibly steep, the length sustains the challenge.
Once over the top of El Jefe you face many small but significant climbs ahead. They seem to come at you one after another here, and after so much time in the saddle this section should challenge all who ride it. Turn left at Pecan Creek Rd. and soon after cruise down a sweeping lefthand bend into a tight righthander that presents you with yet another challenging incline.
Pecan Creek Rd. meanders for over eight miles, along which lies the dead remnants of live oak trees, decimated by Oak Wilt. If not for this peculiar debris, the area would be very pretty. Pecan Creek Rd eventually terminates at Old Mason Rd., where you turn right. From here the route runs almost entirely downhill. A few bumps for sure, but nothing leg-breaking.
Old Mason Road terminates at US87. Turn right and slowly re-enter Fredericksburg's atmosphere. Turn left at the Post Office, or at any road thereafter. Then turn right on Austin St., and roll downhill back to the Marktplatz.
Well done, the pack will not know what hit them at the next race, when you display your now finely-crafted climbing form!